Keeping a band together for 20 years is an immense accomplishment in and of itself. But maintaining a career that manages to thrive with each passing year is pure anomaly. And that’s exactly the case for New Jersey’s punk icons The Bouncing Souls, who are spending this year sporadically releasing songs from their eighth album 20th Anniversary Series.

“We wanted to do something kind of different for ourselves and the fans so we decided to release a song every month online — and then every three months we are putting out a seven-inch with those three songs and a bonus track,” guitarist Pete Steinkopf explains, adding that the entire collection will be available in CD format at the end of the year. 

But there must be a good feeling about the ability to still be crafting vital music with the Bouncing Souls two full decades after the formation of the band.

“It’s weird,” Steinkopf admits with a laugh. “We all love doing this and it’s one of the things that we all want to do for the rest of our lives, but when you look back and you’re like ‘what happened for the past 20 years?’ that’s pretty surreal. It’s a cool feeling to keep it together for that long when you see so many bands come and go all the time; there’s a little bit of pride there.”

Steinkopf, whose axes of choice are a pair a 1979 Les Paul Customs, recorded his first licks with the Souls on the band’s 1994 debut The Good, The Bad & The Argyle. And although the band has evolved over the years, they’ve managed to stay true to their distinctive sound and fill a niche that no other band in the current punk community has even come close to challenging.

“We sing songs from our own experiences and our own lives, so I think people can relate to that, you know?” Steinkopf responds when asked why he thinks the band’s fans have stuck around so long. “We always make fun of ourselves about the fact that we have so many positive songs where we’re like ‘it’s going to be okay. We goof around about that all the time, but it just comes naturally; that’s how we feel about life and music. And there’s a salvation and a positive thing to being to yelling to someone about it in a song.”

That said, intentionally or not, the Bouncing Souls — who also include vocalist Greg Attonito, bassist Bryan Kienlen and drummer Michael McDermott — have no desire to repeat themselves.

“We try to keep a thread going through our music, but we never want to sound the same or repeat ourselves too much because then it becomes too predictable and people are like, ‘Oh, there are some new Souls songs coming out and it’s going to be the same old stuff,’” Steinkopf said, adding that he enjoys playing Bouncing Souls’ songs that were written fifteen years ago just as much as he does brand new tracks off 20th Anniversary Series.

“Some kids want us to write “True Believers” a hundred times but that would kind of take away from how cool “True Believers” is, you know? Each album captures a moment of time and that’s something you can never recreate.”

This summer the band will once again be playing some dates on the Vans Warped Tour alongside other long-running punk acts like Bad Religion and NOFX and during their rare downtime Steinkopf has started producing a few bands in the Souls’ studio. “I’m recording this band from New Jersey called Gimme Drugs and they’re really bad ass. They’re not really fast punk at all, they’re chilled-out, vibe-y music,” he explains. “I also did some stuff for this band Detournement which is a couple of guys from BIgwig and the Ratchets and that’s really rad, like one-minute sick punk songs,” he adds. “It’s fun working with other people and getting their personalities and their vibes because I’m just so used to being with the same few people for the past 20 years. It’s just another outlet, you know?”

When asked if he has any advice for younger bands who would love to achieve the Souls’ longevity, Steinkopf is fairly straightforward.

“I would say just make music because you enjoy doing it, and don’t follow all the trends because that stuff will just make you insane,” he said. “It seems like these days music is all about image and trends; you should do it just because it’s fun and because you love it.”

Check out the video for the Bouncing Souls “True Believers” below: